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Looking back at February weather and ahead to March

Posted at 4:16 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 19:16:54-05

February was a wild weather month!

According to the National Weather Service, only 1.2 inches of snow fell in Cleveland all month long! That means, February 2023 was the 3rd least snowy February ever in the city.


Additionally, Cleveland's average temperature was 38.5 degrees. That is the second warmest February ever and closer to what is typical during the month of March. Akron/Canton only picked up 0.6 inches of snow and the average temperature was 39.3 degrees. That means February was the 2nd least snowy and also the 2nd warmest ever in Akron/Canton. Lastly, Mansfield's average temperature was 37.6 degrees with only a trace of snow. That is the 2nd warmest February and the least snowy February ever in Mansfield.


The entire snow season has been lackluster though. Check out the graphic below. The bar graph shows the average monthly snowfall and the line graph shows snow totals in Cleveland since the first measurable snowfall last fall. Every single month has seen below average snowfall this season.

For all my snow lovers, we still have time to pick up more snow. The snowiest March ever was in 2008 with 30 inches of snow. Of course, that is not typical. On average, March picks up around 10 inches of snow. Even April usually sees a few inches of snow.

avg snow

So will the wet and mild conditions continue in March? Or will the colder air return? Let's discuss...WHAT TO EXPECT IN MARCH:

WE'RE STILL SPRINGING FORWARD: Daylight saving time begins in less than two weeks on Sunday, March 12. On the 12th, the sun will rise and set in the 7 o'clock hour (after we lose an hour of sleep). The time change is always a good opportunity to check your smoke and carbon monoxide monitors and change the batteries.


SPRING BEGINS: It's a season of change! Spring also starts soon - in less than three weeks on March 20 at 5:24 pm. Between the time change and the vernal equinox, you will likely notice how much daylight we gain in Northeast Ohio over the month of March. In fact, everyday gains around 2 minutes and 45 seconds of daylight.

On March 1, there will be 11 hours and 18 minutes of daylight. By March 31, Cleveland will have gained over one hour of daylight with 12 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. That is a huge difference over only 31 days!


COLDER THAN NORMAL: While February was very mild and March 1 marks the first day of meteorological spring (based on average high temperatures), it looks like March could end up with more of a chill!

For perspective, average high temperatures for early March are in the low 40s. By the end of the month, the average high temperature has increased to the mid 50s.


However, when looking at the next 6-10 days, the Climate Prediction Center notes there is a possibility for the pattern to flip and colder than average temps becomes a possibility. From March 6-10, there is a roughly a 30-40% chance for below normal temps. It does not look like it will be SHARPLY colder during this time frame. This also does not suggest that there will be zero warm days, but the bulk average seems to begin to lean colder rather than for warmer for at least part of Ohio.


The colder pattern looks to become more likely by the middle of the month. This is a notable signal from the Climate Prediction Center for below average temperatures until March 14 and not only for Northern Ohio, but for much of the country!


The Cooperative Institute for Precipitation Systems (CIPS) agrees with this trend. The extended analog guidance also shows a high confidence that 12-14 days out will be colder than normal for much of the country. It shows about a 70% chance for below average temps from March 12 - 15.


Interestingly enough, history tells us this trend is plausible. If you think back to the winter of 2017-2018, it followed a very similar pattern to last several months, including a major storm around Christmas, a mild start to the year and THEN...colder temperatures to start off spring.

If this interests you, here is a recap of the winter in 2017-2018 from the NWS. It will be very interesting to see how the next few weeks turn out. It is important to keep in mind, monthly forecasts are hard to predict. This is a discussion regarding general warming/cooling trends. It is still best to tune into The Power of 5 Weather Team each day! We will keep you posted on the daily and weekly forecasts - especially since severe weather season is around the corner!

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